Help Freedom Ring for Those Who Fought to Defend Ours
It’s customary this time of year to reflect upon the past year and set new goals. The New Year is a time for hopes and dreams. But not everyone looks forward to loud parties or even rooms filled with people…
That’s why Retrieving Freedom Inc. (RF) established itself as a nonprofit in 2011 to assist Veterans, children with autism and diabetics. “These dogs don’t just help the person. In the end, they help the whole community,” said Scott Dewey in an April 2013 interview with KWWL. Dogs in training reach thousands of individuals who will benefit on many levels.
The New Year is bringing about new services for RFI as it moves into its new “Thrive Again” facility in Waverly, Iowa. This facility was designed to provide animal-assisted activities with help from local Veterans, schools, troubled teenagers, college students, and community volunteers like Chad Johnson. Johnson served 13 years in the Iowa Army National Guard, through deployments in Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan. He says helping at RFI gives him a sense of purpose and also allows him give back since he also received, Copper, a service dog from RFI.
“If I’m flashing back, processing different situations I’ve been in and anxiety’s building up, he’ll sense it automatically and just do ‘paws up’ right on me,” said Johnson in a Dec. 1, 2013, WCF Courier article. Copper will get in Johnson’s lap, lick his face, tug his sleeve and calm him by getting Johnson to play catch with a ball or go for a walk.
Another RFI volunteer is Jenna Kyhl, who is currently fostering two puppies for RFI. She says the puppies receive her care from the time they’re weaned until they’re about 8 months old. During this time, the Labradors learn to work and play. She potty trains the pups and teaches them basic commands like sit, stand and lay down. She also teaches them to lead from a person’s left side.
“I take the dogs everywhere I go from the time they arrive,” explains Khyl. “It’s important for them to get exposed to situations like shopping in Wal-Mart and eating in restaurants.” They learn they’re “working” when they’re wearing their vest. When they’re not wearing the vests, they get to explore the yard, walk trails and play. The pups also get lots of exposure to other animals and children as Jenna takes them to work with her as riding instructor and horse trainer at Hilltop Equestrian Center.
In a recent Facebook post, Kyhl gives a look into what it means to foster a RFI puppy:
I wanted to share this with my family and friends. I know that sometimes it may not be convenient for me to have Ada, Topper or Latham with me. I do understand that having them in your homes or sitting under the table while we are out to dinner or laying on your feet in a movie may not be in your comfort zone. I understand that you are not used to the looks and questions from strangers. I understand that the extra 5 minutes it takes me to walk anywhere because of people asking questions might irritate you.
I want to say thank you for being supportive in my choice to continue fostering. Please understand that I truly believe in what I am doing, and I truly believe I am helping to make a child or veterans life a little easier. This link may allow you to put names, faces and stories with my reasons for wanting to be a foster. (http://retrievingfreedom.org/recipients-and-dogs/)
Thank you for being so understanding and supportive! Especially when the dogs may not be acting like perfect little citizens they will get there! They need to make their mistakes with me so that they are successful in making someone’s life better when it is time for them to move on to the next step.
Thank you again! Ada, Top and Latham thank you as well!
Ada is the name of the first female Lab that Khyl fostered for RFI. In a few weeks, Top (short for “Topper”) will move to his next level of training at the RFI facility. The latest puppy, named “Latham,” arrived on December 18.
Donated by Craig Christians, Territory Sales Manager for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, our namesake puppy will become part of the RFI’s breeding program. Watch for updates on these dogs by following Retrieving Freedom’s Facebook page or on Twitter as @RFI_dogs.
“Latham” the pup was purchased from Kerrybrook Labrador Retrievers of Chardon in Northeast Ohio, which has developed a reputation for breeding dogs for soundness, temperament, working ability and confirmation – all important traits for service dogs.
My son and I had the opportunity to meet “Latham” on Tuesday, Dec. 23. What a sweetheart! Like any baby, he sleeps most of the day. He also needs to eat good quality foods to maintain a healthy diet during periods of rapid growth, so today we’re sharing a recipe for dog treats that won’t break your own dog’s diet.
Homemade Bacon Bits (Dog Treats)
- 6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
- 4 eggs, well beaten
- 1/8 cup bacon fat
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk powder
- 2 cup graham flour
- 2 cup wheat germ
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- Mix ingredients with a strong spoon; drop heaping tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet.
- Bake in an oven at 350° for 15 minutes.
- Then turn off oven and leave cookies on baking sheet overnight.
Interested in another option? Click here for a link to Peanut Butter Bones.
Yield: about 4 dozen dog cookies